Monthly Archives: June 2012

The little matter of a junket to Tybee Island…


Later today, Reid hops a plane out of Chicago to his temporary work assignment in London.  His first day of work is Wednesday.  As any of us would, he’s looking forward to it, although I’m not sure if he’s looking more at the work or at London.  Probably both.

If the summer schedule plays out as it is currently scripted, the chance of me getting over there to visit this new expat are slim and none.  It’s just not in the cards.  Reid is over there for roughly two months and if his stint stretched into October or November, then it might be a different matter.  But it’s not.  I’m already committed to the Twin Cities to check up on Emma and her domain plus the Bridger Wilderness is set in stone, too.

The morning after we rode across the isthmus from Tybee Island to Savannah, we stopped along the Savannah River long enough to stretch our legs. Felicia deserved a few hours away from her workday grind. Moments after this shot was taken, we saddled up again. This time, up to Hilton Head on back roads.

Then there was the little matter of a junket for Felicia and me to Tybee Island, Georgia this past weekend.  She has worked long, tedious hours and she deserved a 27 hour getaway to this tiny little stretch of sand that is a great spot.  As she tells it, it has what Myrtle Beach and some of the over-commercialized ocean front tourist traps do not: a coziness that comes with a community scarcely a mile or two long (at the most), some beach bars that serve cold drinks, and two greasy spoon breakfast nooks worth the trip alone.  The price of admission to any of the spots we happened upon were flip flops and shorts.  We rode the Harley this time, and no Chamber of Commerce could have ordered any better weather.  We took the back road from Savannah to Hilton Head where a couple of cold beers washed away any road dust and made our lunch along the ocean taste a little better.

Ellen sent this photo with a one word caption: Chillin’. Already Emma is changing day by day. I see her next on July 13.

For those expecting one more photo of Emma, here is the little wonder with one of her first discernable smiles.  Her mom sent this at precisely the right time as her gramps slogged through a Friday work day worth forgetting.

Here is last week’s letter.  The letter to be written today will be mailed to Ellen and emailed to Reid in London (as his will be for the next 7 or 8 weeks).

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June 11, 2012

Ellen/Reid: Well, one would suppose this will be the last letter on paper you’ll receive for a while, Reid.  While you’re ‘over there’ I’ll send the notes by email attachment.  It will sort of be like when you went to Finland.  I’m looking into a short visit while you’re there, but there may be some things working against it.  Certainly the Olympics and all that revolves around it (higher prices, price gouging, etc., and that includes airline tickets) but it would sure be great fun to figure out how to make a four or five day visit work.  My passport is still valid for another year.  But never say never because this would be a once-in-a-lifetime situation to get over there to see you.  It’s all so exciting.  There will be so much ado about the Olympics, Wimbledon, the royal family, et al.  The ‘biometric appointment’ took me a little off guard but that’s just the way security is these days.  Just make sure you send us a lot of photos.  It might be fun to keep a short term journal of your adventure.

And Ellen, the picture of you and Emma at Home Depot is just hilarious.  A family shopping trip to a hardware store.  I laughed out loud at those little appendages dangling outside her kiddie harness or whatever it is you call it.  It’s too early for her to make decisions about the décor of her room but that time will come.  I have sprinkled her new photos around the townhome and will send a framed one to you that appears to be a duplicate.  We can’t wait to get up there on the 13th of July.  We plan to stay at a B&B down on Grand.  Felicia correctly advises that it would be good for us to stay out of your hair.  One less stressor for you guys to deal with.

We head down to Tybee Island, Georgia on Friday for one night at a cheap hotel plus a few nice walks on the beach.  We’ll take the bike and cruise on down because it’s not too bad a jaunt.  Tybee Island is a smallish place just outside of Savannah and it doesn’t have the size and noise and distractions of a Myrtle Beach or some of the other island hot spots.  The little burg features one of the all time great greasy spoon breakfast spots where, if you’re not wearing flip flops, you’re out of place and conspicuously out of style.  You can tell Tim that it appears to be a redfish paradise, what with all the little fingerling inlets and such that push way inland.  I’d love to cast a line but there just won’t be enough time for it.  Felicia has to be back on Sunday so she can go to Shelby for Father’s Day.  Tybee is kind of a fall-back position because I’m still trying to get the time share thing figured out.  I have totally squandered that resource.  Totally wasted it.

Betsy got a new job at the bank.  Her other position might have been drawing to a close but she has landed on her feet and in a better spot.  She’ll start to work from home which will be a new experience for her.  I’ve assured her she will love it.

The weather is beginning to warm up here and before you know it we’ll be up to our necks in heat and sweat.  But the spring has been great here and there are no real complaints.  The weather may warm up but my golf game remains cold.  I’ve completely lost touch with the sport.  It would be the one thing I’d discourage Emma from taking up.  But there is some signs of success around here.  Finally, after years of trying without success, there are some eating sized tomatoes forming on the vine just outside the front porch.  And I’ve cleaned out the garage of rickety old shelving and other what-not so that looks better at long last.  There is plenty more to do around here.

Reid, the parting words are: stay in touch.  Let us know how your world turns in London and it would be wonderful to see photos of where you live, where you work and where you visit.  This is a great opportunity for you.  Don’t be surprised if your old man knocks on the door looking for a place to sleep, even if it’s the floor.  Have fun over there, kid.

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Mistress of all she surveys…


This time next week, Reid will be in London to begin his first international work venture.  He’s landed a short term assignment to oversee a digital something-or-other project.   His skills will indeed span an ocean.  Sure, he missed the queen’s 60th jubilee by a couple of weeks but in his spare moments he can wander over toward the Olympic venues.  I suppose there’s no bad time to be in Britain but this would seem a particularly great time.  The wheels are turning toward a short visit to the kid.  The letter written today will be the last he receives on paper for a while.  He’ll get his by email attachment while he’s across the pond.

I’m bored. Tend to my needs or feed me, one of the two.

Then there’s Emma.  The 24 hour all-Emma-all-the-time channel is still in the works, but the little wonder continues to elbow her way to the top of Ellen-Tim society.  She’s gaining weight, cementing her position as the mistress of all she surveys, and becoming accustomed to ruling the roost.  Gramps is all for that.  It didn’t take long for her photos to be displayed prominently throughout the house.

Fittingly, Reid and his niece highlight last week’s letter:

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June 4, 2012

Ellen/Reid: The work week got off to a rocky start (as if starting at 6:15 Eastern every morning isn’t rocky enough) although things have smoothed out since the early pandemonium.  Still a few hours to go but the placid waters could change if someone else’s heartbeat quickens and their problem becomes my problem.  Actually, I do work with a capable bunch of good people.

I figured out why the little blue birds died.  They got drenched in cold water.  They adjusted the lawn sprinkler system, and two of the strong streams of water take a direct pass right over the hole in the bird house.  I didn’t notice that until this morning and that rankles me.  Water was literally running out the bottom of the box.  Blue birds were re-nesting, and they’ve gone away because the (^&%$@# sprinkler comes on twice a day.  I’ll take birds over a green lawn any day.

Man, Reid, you will be in London near the peak of Olympic festivities.  What an absolute madhouse that place is going to be for nearly your entire time there.  But I suppose that is half the fun, rubbing shoulders with the rest of the world.  I’ll send a note to Mike Hill to see if he’ll have time to have a cold one with you.  Not certain of my travel plans there but it would be a great short trip to take if you have a floor available for sleeping.  A couch with a pillow would be what I’m used to.  Still unclear is what the heck you will be doing over there by day.  I didn’t have my wits about me to ask you about that.  My bad to leave England off the list of countries you’ve visited.  No doubt it won’t be the last.

The photos of Emma should arrive any day now, and already I’m ruing the dull-headed lapse of no wallet size shots to foist on my friends who ask to see her.  What a dang oversight that was.  A lot of good 5×7 shots will do sitting in the house.  I’ll send the photographer a new order to ship some down this way.  That is certain to double the thickness of my wallet.  Nothing wrong with ample supplies of granddaughter photos.  According to informed sources (Felicia and others) it isn’t uncommon for babies to be cranky in the 5 – 8 p.m. timeframe.  She will get over that soon enough.  It’s just heartening to see she is gaining some weight and putting a little beef on herself.  This past weekend, one of the people who asked to see Emma’s photos said her daughter is expecting, but to break the news of the baby’s sex, the expectant couple will host a cake-type of unveiling party.  Their doctor gives the parents a sealed envelope containing the baby’s sex which the parents take to a bakery.  The baker makes a cake that is either pink or blue on the inside and covers it with white frosting.  The ‘sex’ is unveiled when the cake is cut.  Is there nothing that escapes the clutches of the wedding industry in its pursuit of making a fast buck?  It’s total insanity but I wish that was my idea.

The lettuce garden that has faithfully furnished lettuce every day for weeks is on its last legs.  That’s the way it goes.  It goes to bolt (seed) and that’s the end of it.  But the patio tomato plant is beginning to come on like gangbusters.  The fruit are about the size of a racquetball but that is a serious upgrade from the total, utter and abject failure of tomatoes in years gone by.  It provides a little bit of hope that for once there will be delicious BLTs at some point this summer.  In a tip of the hat to my doctor, the bacon will be of the turkey variety.

Okay, the call of work is still loud and clear.  It must be answered.  I’ll be in touch again in short order.  Emma and London aren’t such bad topics to talk about.

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We will go back but not soon enough


After six years, the idea of camping in the North Carolina mountains has at long last taken hold.  There is scenery, there are fish (some big ones) and plenty of hiking.  Why it took more than half a decade to discover western North Carolina can only be attributed to me being a ‘late adopter’.  Very late.  I will lean on my fly-fisherman-to-end-all-fly-fisherman son in law, Tim, to tie me some Caddis and Adams, along with a few streamers (those drove the larger trout nuts).  (We will call it a trade: I sent some French roast coffee ahead of Emma’s birth and later built Emma’s garden while I was up there to celebrate her grand arrival.)

Felicia and our roomy tent. Camping was more fun than I expected. Everything about it was good. Asheville is close enough that if camp food doesn’t suffice, we can always hit Salsa’s – the best Mexican food I have ever had.

We will go back to the North Mill valley, but not soon enough.  This time, the MSR stove and our mildly loaded backpacks will make the trek with us.

Here is last week’s letter in its entirety.

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May 29, 2012

Ellen/Reid: I got a big smile out of that shot of you holding your niece, Reid.  One can only imagine the off-camera coaching you received.  That was so good.  She’s just a little bundle of joy, isn’t she?

Maybe by the time this arrives you will know about your plans for London.  That sounds so adventurous, especially if you have something waiting for you when you return.  That would be great.  I’ve looked into tickets to the U.K., pricey but doable.  I forgot this is an Olympic year and everything will be jacked up price-wise.  But you only go around once, and it would be marvelous to get over there to share your experience at least for a long Thurs.-Sun. weekend.  You’ve been quite the international traveler.  By my count – and I could be wrong – you’ve been to Mexico, Australia, New Zealand, Finland, Russia, Sweden, India.  What am I missing?

We had a great time in the “mountains” just southwest of Asheville.  We got one of the last camp sites in a state park, and oddly it was a secluded spot at the end of a road where we were really next to only one other couple and well away from the holiday zanies.  We only went for Sunday night.  After setting up the tent we went into Asheville and found an old time neighborhood bar for some of the best calamari I’ve ever had then went to the recovery house where Felicia’s son is staying, and that was a good, eye-opening experience.  The house is well away from Asheville and is filled with guys who are battling the same demons.  Addiction is just such an awful, insidious thing.  After their Sunday night meal, everyone, including visitors (which was really just Felicia and me), had to say what they were thankful for and that was interesting.  Everyone started with “I’m (insert name) and I’m an addict or alcoholic.”  On the way back to camp we bought a couple of bundles of oak firewood and had a great time sipping a little wine, watching the fire, telling stories and just laughing.  I went fishing twice, and caught trout both times, including a 2 pound brown trout of about 17-18 inches (Ellen, tell Tim that after the elation died down I downgraded the catch from 3 to 2 lbs.) plus a few plump rainbows, among the biggest I’ve ever caught, with one topping out in the 14” range.  It’s true that the farther up you walk from the trail head, the bigger the fish get.  Of course, I lost numerous flies due to poor casts but it was still great fun.  North Carolina is so beautiful.  If it just wasn’t for the reddest of redneck politics.

Ellen, we have our tickets for Friday, July 13.  We get in about 1:30 p.m. and will rent a car so you don’t have to fuss with traffic or bundling little Emma up for the trip.  We’ll also get a room to save you guys the hassle.  That’s fine with us.  We are excited to see the little one.  She will be more than two months old by that time.  Can’t wait to see you guys again.  We will get out of your hair early Sunday for our 9 a.m. flight.

Will change a couple of rooms around upstairs in the next week or so in order to configure my office a little bit more efficiently.  I want to be in the same room as the router and phone connections and reduce the number of wires snaking to and fro.  So the double bed and the twin beds will be swapped out.  It’s the behemoth desk that is the biggest challenge.  But all-in-all it will be a far better working arrangement.

My workouts for Wyoming have started in semi-earnest.  There’s got a long way to go and if I’d knock off the ice cream things would be that much easier on me.  But its allure is strong and I wilt way too often.  There are worse things.  At least the ice cream is carb-free.

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